Life could start to steadily return to normal around spring time, England’s chief medical officer has said.
Professor Chris Whitty said that a return to normality would be a steady process and would not happen “immediately”.
The comments come as the nation’s top medic spoke at the ukactive summit on the importance of exercise.
He said that being active is “central to health” but many people have reduced their levels of exercise during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, others have increased the amount of exercise they do, particularly when exercise was one of the main reasons to leave the house.
Prof Whitty said: “One of the real problems in 2020 – one of the ways Covid has damaged health – is, for some people, making it more difficult for them to do exercise.”
He added: “For some people the amount of exercise has gone up. They’ve concentrated much of their leisure time on exercise.
“But there is no doubt that the Covid crisis has made it harder for many people to do exercise.”
He said that although a return to normality would be “steady”, he hoped it would happen by spring.
“As we come out of the Covid crisis, which is not going to be immediate but is going to be steady… spring is a point where many of us hope that things will begin to normalise,” he said.
“But (it won’t be) straight back to normal in one band. It is very important that we get people who have got out of the habit of regular exercise back in the situation where they are doing so and encourage others who have taken up exercise in a way they previously hadn’t to continue to do so.
“We need to think this through because exercise is so central.
“Exercise is the single simplest and most important thing people can do to improve their physical and mental health.”
Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “Professor Whitty has clearly underlined the vital importance of physical activity in our battle with Covid-19 and our nation’s recovery.
“Covid-19 has damaged our activity levels and as we await the roll-out of a vaccine we must seize this moment to place physical activity at the heart of our nation’s renewal by ensuring our gyms and leisure centres are supported to serve their communities fully.”